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~ So Sophisticated: Sweet Potato & Frangelico Tart ~

IMG_3039"So sophisticated."  That was my mother-in-law's comment when I served this dessert in place of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving a few years back.  I hung onto those words because Ann was a woman of few words who didn't hand out compliments often.  We were having an unusually small gathering of eight people that year.  Making one easy-to-serve dessert to feed us all, enabling me to offer seconds to a few, and, save me time too -- it worked out perfectly.

IMG_3025Sweet potato or pumpkin pie (in addition to Dutch apple, pecan, and rhubarb) was/is always a part of my three-four pie dessert buffet for our larger Thanksgiving feasts.  In a gathering of 22-24 of our family and friends, those pie choices please everyone every time.  On this particular year, I knew that my mother-in-law, like myself, was a huge fan of sweet potatoes and always chose sweet potato pie over pumpkin, so, I came up with:  a very ladylike sweet potato tart.

IMG_2992Part One:  Making My Three-Ingredient Tart Shell 

IMG_0915We bakers all have our favorite recipe for pâte brisée, and pâte sucrée (unsweetened and sweetened recipes for flaky quiche and pie pastry).  I know I do.  Some folks simply purchase pie pastry and I am neither going to judge nor criticize. What happens in your kitchen stays in your kitchen. Just remember: Whether making it from scratch or taking it out of a box, it's got to be rolled enough to fit into the bottom and up the sides of a tart pan with a removable bottom.

That said, I have a nifty little three-ingredient-recipe that is so easy-to-make you'd have to be crazy to use a store-bought crust.  Technically, it's in a category all its own and the fancy French word for it is pâte sablée.  Literally translated, it means "sand dough", because it has a coarse sand-like texture when mixed together.  It is so sandy, it gets dumped into a tart pan and pressed into place because, unlike a pie pastry, it's next-to-impossible to roll and impossible to pick up and move after rolling.  It produces a cookie-like crust, which makes it perfect for sweet tarts.    In my version, I melt some butter in the microwave, stir it into a mixture of flour and sugar, then pat and press it into the tart pan -- that's all there is to it.  It bakes up perfect each and every time.

IMG_2413For one 11" tart crust:

10 tablespoons salted butter (1 stick + 2 tablespoons) (Note:  If you choose to use unsalted butter, which a lot of bakers do, stir a scant 1/8 tablespoon salt into the flour and sugar mixture.)

2  cups + 3 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour

5  tablespoons granulated sugar (1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon)

IMG_2415IMG_2417IMG_2423IMG_2424~Step 1.  In a 1-cup measuring container, melt butter in microwave.  In a medium bowl, using a fork, stir together the flour and sugar.  In a thin stream add the butter to the dry mixture, stirring constantly with the fork, until all the butter is added.  The mixture will resemble pea-sized crumbs that come together when a few small bits are pressed together with the fingertips.

IMG_2428IMG_2432Step 2.  Transfer all of the loose crumb mixture to the bottom of an 11" tart pan.  Using your fingertips, pat and press the mixture evenly but firmly across the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Note:  Feel free to use a small hand-held tart roller if you have one (like the one pictured above), but it is not necessary.  Place on center rack of 340°-350º oven and bake until crust is a very light golden brown, 18-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool the crust while preparing the tart filling.

IMG_2433Part Two:  Making my Sophisticated Sweet Potato Tart Filling

IMG_5635Sweet potato pie is a Southern tradition.  Similar to pumpkin pie in texture, it too is mostly served in the Fall, when both are in season.  That said, it's my opinion that too many recipes for sweet potato pie try to make it taste like pumpkin pie by adding spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, etc.  As a sweet potato lover,  "Why", I ask myself, "would anyone want to try to make both of these pies taste alike?"  It made and makes no sense to me.  

Pumpkin is naturally bland and boring and benefits from the aromatic spices.  Sweet potatoes are full-of-flavor and naturally sweet all by themselves.  All they require is a companion flavor that plays harmony with them -- nothing intense.  I chose Frangelico, an Italian hazelnut-flavored liqueur.  I even serve each slice of sweet potato tart with a small aperitif glass of Frangelico.

IMG_29382-2 1/2  cups mashed sweet potatoes, from 3 medium-sized, orange, sweet potatoes

6  ounces salted butter, at room temperature, very soft

3/4  cup sugar

1/4  teaspoon salt

2  large eggs

6  tablespoons cream

2  tablespoons Frangelico (an Italian hazelnut-flavored liqueur)

3/4  teaspoon pure vanilla extract, not imitation

IMG_2944Step 1.  In oven or microwave, bake sweet potatoes until soft.  Set aside until they are cool enough to comfortably handle with your hands, about 15-20 minutes.  Using a paring knife, an ordinary tablespoon and a fork, slice the potatoes in half, scoop out the soft centers, transfer them to a measuring container and mash them with a fork.  Set aside.  Note: Many recipes instruct to peel, cube and boil the sweet potatoes until soft.  I find this makes them watery.

IMG_2946 IMG_2952 IMG_2954 IMG_2955~Step 2.  In a large mixing bowl, on medium-high speed of hand-held electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar and salt, until light and fluffy, constantly scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, for 1 full minute.  Add and beat in the eggs and continue to beat for another 1 full minute. Add the cream, Frangelico and vanilla, and, beat 1 more full minute.  

IMG_2959 IMG_2963 IMG_2967 IMG_2969~Step 3.  Add the sweet potatoes.  Starting on medium-low mixer speed and working up to high, continuing to scrape down the sides of the bowl, beat for 2 full minutes.  Transfer the filling to the tart shell, which has been placed on a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan lined with parchment paper.

IMG_2971 IMG_2978~ Step 4.  Bake on center rack of 325° oven until puffed and just set in the center and barely browned, 30-35 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on wire rack 2 hours prior to removing from tart pan and slicing and serving.

Sweet potato tart going into the oven to bake:

IMG_2971Sweet potato tart coming out of the oven to cool:

IMG_2978Slice & serve w/freshly-whipped cream & a grind of chocolate:

IMG_3011So Sophisticated:  Sweet Potato & Frangelico Tart:  Recipe yields 10-12 servings.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; paring knife; tablespoon; fork; 2-quart measuring container; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; 11" tart pan w/removable bottom; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; cooling rack

Roasted Pumpkins of Tussey Mountain #2Cook's Note:  Click on the Related Article link below to get my recipe for ~ Traditional Thanksgiving Preschutti Pumpkin Pie ~.  The difference between a pumpkin pie made from canned vs. fresh-roasted pumpkin puree is night and day.  To read my method and get my recipe for making ~ Roasted Pumpkin Puree ~ from scratch, just click into Categories 15, 18 or 22.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)


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